Resurrection Challenge Winners

Congratulations to ReligionFreeDeist and evangelical1 for winning the Resurrection challenge.

Why are naturalistic explanations preferred?

(hover the mouse pointer over the scripture references)

What happens if you do acknowledge the evidence for the resurrection?

Then you have to take Jesus seriously… (Jn. 18:37)

Jesus taught that man is hopelessly sinful and lost. This is an inconvenient truth, also it’s not a likely human invention. (Jn. 8:34)

It’s also extremely distasteful if you believe you are a ‘good’ person.  (Mrk. 10:18)

He taught that the penalty for sin is eternal separation from God in a place called hell. This is radically different from Judaism it was Jesus’ new teaching — another inconvenient and very unattractive idea from a humanist perspective — why would human beings make this up? (Matt. 10:28)

Jesus dies for our sins, and this seems weird to us, even unjust. Yet it has coherence with the Torah’s sacrificial system and especially with the account of  Abraham taking Isaac up on the mountain.  The concluding message was that God would provide the lamb for the sacrifice. (Gen. 22: 8, 22:14)

Then John the Baptist comes along and declares Jesus as “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29)

Jesus teaches that this is not something you can earn with your good behavior, but salvation is a free gift from God (Jn. 15:16). This is an idea that appears in no other world religion, unmerited grace.  We like to take pride in our accomplishments. This is just not something men would come up with. (Eph. 2:8)

To receive this free gift of salvation,  it is a requirement to acknowledge the resurrection.(Rom 10:9)

If the message of Jesus has opened you to the need for forgiveness and to the reality of God… then perhaps the anti-supernatural dogma might lose its power over your mind. The evidence is there and it is compelling.

After all… who are you? what are you?  your mind, your consciousness, your sense of self is an immaterial reality that transcends naturalistic explanation. So why the insistence on only naturalistic explanations? (1 Cor 2:14)

Could it be that openness to a supernatural explanation is not prejudice to believe in the resurrection, but freedom from prejudice against it?

The Supreme Supersessionist Speaks

In Vatican City on October 10th 2010 the Pope Benedict XVI opened the Synod of Bishops’ Special Assembly for the Middle East at St. Peter’s Basilica. The synod is taking place at the Vatican from Oct. 10-24 under the theme: “The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness.”

Speaking for God, the Pope said of the Promised Land is “not of this world” that Israel is not an earthly kingdom. His words are not surprising as the Roman Catholic Church has led the way in promoting the supersessionsist (replacement theology) heresy and denying national Israel’s place in God’s plan. One unfortunate consequence of this error is that it has made it extremely difficult for Jews to take seriously the claim that Jesus of Nazareth is Israel’s Messiah. The Pope’s eisegesis was recorded last Sunday:

He reveals Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cf. Ex 3:6), who wants to lead his people to the “land” of freedom and peace. This “land” is not of this world; the whole of the divine plan goes beyond history, but the Lord wants to build it with men, for men and in men, beginning with the coordinates of space and time in which they live and which He Himself gave them.[1]

This is utter nonsense as the Biblical narrative is centered on a real material plot of land. Of course, this has political and theological overtones as the Vatican’s position has consistently been that Jerusalem cannot belong to just one state.[2] It is my view that the Pope’s theology blatantly files in the face of biblical revelation. Jesus in Luke 19:42 and Paul in Romans 11:25 explain that Israel is blinded nationally for the church age. Temporarily blinded not replaced.

In Romans 9, 10, & 11 Paul’s purpose was to explain Israel’s future. If you simply read that sequence of chapters, replacement theology is absurd. The gentile church is clearly described as “grafted into” not replacing Israel.  Paul makes this abundantly clear:

As regards the gospel, they [Israel] are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  (Rom. 11:28–29)

I wonder how Paul could have made it any clearer than irrevocable?

Furthermore, the Pope’s homily is a harbinger of the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) otherwise known as the great tribulation (Mat. 24:21). Jesus said that Jerusalem would be occupied by gentiles until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled – just prior to his second coming.

“They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Lk 21:24)

  • This is a prophecy of the Diaspora, which occurred in AD 70. The Romans spread the Jews all over the known world, selling many as slaves. This is a matter of undisputed record.
  • When Jesus says “until” that clearly infers that one day Jerusalem will be back in Jewish hands.
  • Thus it is an inferred prophecy of the reformation of Israel in 1948 and the reclamation of Jerusalem in 1967. Jerusalem certainly was under Gentile control until 1967, the fact that is now largely under Jewish control and the far reaching spread of the gospel is sure sign that the times of Gentiles are nearly fulfilled.

So where does this leave the supreme replacement theologian Benedict XVI?  One wonders how the description of the Antichrist “dividing the land for a price” (Dan 11:39) escapes the attention of Catholic exegetes. Even more, the prophetic warnings about dividing God’s land in Joel 3:2. Note that “those days and that time” clearly refers to the “day of the Lord” that Christians understand as the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is also noteworthy that God refers to it as His land.

For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, (Joel 3:1–2)

I shudder to think how the Pope’s theology will stand on that day.



Stephen Hawking’s Descent Into Futility

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlondinow’s latest book The Grand Design has astounded the philosophical community by making the audacious claim that “Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.” [i] Dr. William Lane Craig begs to differ, please refer to this.

Demise of philosophy aside, Hawking necessarily robs its grave as his book is a case in point, material reductionist philosophical treatise – not hard science.  He sets forth the preposterous idea that the mere existence of the law of gravity allows that the universe could spontaneously create itself out of nothing. He argues that the entire universe is the product of an arbitrary quantum fluctuation, an unintentional cosmic coincidence that has no spiritual significance.

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”  [i]

Ok let me get this straight… In other words, to create itself, the universe had to exist, before it existed.  Now that is futile thinking! I guess Hawking’s Grand Design is actually no design… but how grand is that? Yet he still must acknowledge that we find an astonishingly well suited set of conditions for life. This transcends credulity and he knows it.  To explain away the inconceivable precision design we encounter. Hawking asserts,

But just as Darwin and Wallace explained how the apparently miraculous design of living forms could appear without intervention by a supreme being, the multiverse concept can explain the fine-tuning of physical law without the need for a benevolent creator who made the universe for our benefit.[ii]

Multiple universes? Where did they come from?

“Bodies such as stars or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can.”[iii]

Wow! This sounds like magic!  Wait a minute… seriously, how can “nothing” fluctuate?  Nothing literally means “no thing” and it can not do anything. But Hawking believes that nothing did something which made everything. That is futile thinking. For many more detailed rebuttal’s please follow this link as this has been demonstrated as nonsense on a number of levels.

Even his research partner Sir Roger Penrose, who won the Wolf prize for physics with Hawking for their paper which proved that time had a beginning, has spoken out against his unwarranted atheistic assertions. It seems as if a famously brilliant scientist is exhibiting embarrassingly futile thinking. I think I know why…

I have been reading A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy which is a book about the attributes of God and how many modern Christians have lost the proper sense of God’s awesome majesty. I highly recommend it and hope that you might read it, as the above hyperlink links to a free electronic copy. In light of Hawking’s nonsense, a few sections really stood out to me. So much so, I feel compelled to post them. First, Tozer speaks to the fact that modern man has lost his proper sense of awe and wonder for creation. Remarking on how much,

Still we do not know. Secularism, materialism, and the intrusive presence of things have put out the light in our souls and turned us into a generation of zombies. We cover our deep ignorance with words, but we are ashamed to wonder, we are afraid to whisper “mystery.”  [iv]

I think this indeed the case. One’s belief in God is inextricably related to one’s sense of awe and wonder with creation. The arrogance of some scientists is rather astounding considering that we actually know so very little. Tozer’s words “that we still do not know what it is” were penned decades ago. Has science proved him wrong? Hasn’t science now unlocked reality? Actually quite the opposite, in fact, we have actually learned that we know a lot less than we thought we did in 1961. David Spergel leader of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe space mission reveals,

“From our experiments, the periodic table which comprises the atoms or normal matter that are said to make up the entire universe actually covers only 4.5 percent of the whole,” lead theorist Spergel said. “Students are learning just a tiny part of the universe from their textbooks. It would be dark matter and dark energy that comprise the next 22 percent and 73.5 percent of the universe.”[v]

As Dr John Lennox so astutely rebutted Hawking,  “What Hawking appears to have done is to confuse law with agency. His call on us to choose between God and physics is a bit like someone demanding that we choose between aeronautical engineer Sir Frank Whittle and the laws of physics to explain the jet engine.” [vi] Dr. Lennox is indeed correct and this is where my current reading of Tozer connected serendipitously. I had just heard Lennox’s rebuttal when I read this section by Tozer:

One cannot long read the Scriptures sympathetically without noticing the radical
disparity between the outlook of men of the Bible and that of modern men. We are
today suffering from a secularized mentality. Where the sacred writers saw God, we see
the laws of nature. Their world was fully populated; ours is all but empty. Their world
was alive and personal; ours is impersonal and dead. God ruled their world; ours is
ruled by the laws of nature and we are always once removed from the presence of God.

And what are these laws of nature that have displaced God in the minds of millions?
Law has two meanings. One is all external rule enforced by authority, such as the
common rule against robbery and assault. The word is also used to denote the uniform
way things act in the universe, but this second use of the word is erroneous. What we
see in nature is simply the paths God’s power and wisdom take through creation.
Properly these are phenomena, not laws, but we call them laws by analogy with the
arbitrary laws of society.

Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern
somewhere and fixes it as a “law.” The uniformity of God’s activities in His creation
enables the scientist to predict the course of natural phenomena. The trustworthiness of
God’s behavior in His world is the foundation of all scientific truth. Upon it the scientist
rests his faith and from there he goes on to achieve great and useful things in such fields
as those of navigation, chemistry, agriculture, and the medical arts. [vii]

When I consider Lennox’s observation of the category error coupled with Tozer’s prescient theological analysis. I think Hawking’s descent comes into sharp focus. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking invoked God and the “mind of God” as an overarching rationality governing the Universe. How can we account for an otherwise brilliant man’s descent into self-refuting nonsense? The Old Testament is crystal clear on atheism (Ps. 53:1). But Romans chapter one actually prescribes specific consequences that aptly characterize Hawking’s latest effort,

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him,but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Futile thinking indeed…

[i] Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design. New York: Bantam Books, 2010, 14.

[ii] Hawking, Design, 259.

[iii] Hawking, Design, 281.

[iv] Tozer, A.W. “The Knowledge of the Holy.” 1961. (accessed 10 6, 2010). p. 14-15.

[v] Serinah Ho, “Scientists uncover secrets of universe” (accessed 10-5-2010)

[vi]John Lennox, ”Stephen Hawking is Wrong” (accessed 10-5-2010)

[vii] Tozer, Knowledge, p.47-48

Skeptics and the Genetic Fallacy

In this case, the skeptic never deals with the evidence at all, he simply avoids it.  Some skeptics just will not accept anything at all that comes from the bible. If the bible claimed that circles were round, I believe this guy actually might not accept it. Seriously, it is a common yet fallacious way to argue. Unfortunately, it is so common that it has a name,  this avoidance tactic is known as the genetic fallacy.

Genetic Fallacy: This is a special type of reductive fallacy in which the single issue focused on is the source or origin of an idea. The argument demands, “Something (or someone) should be rejected because it (or he) comes from a bad source.”[i]

In my original argument I said that it is not necessary to believe biblical inerrancy to accept the minimal facts argument.  I certainly affirm inerrancy and believe the bible is the inspired word of God. Borrowing from John Piper, I understand that inerrancy means fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that it has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.[ii] The bible is “without error” in the sense that all that the biblical authors intended to teach is true and does not conflict with reality or with the will of God. Yet to grasp the weight of resurrection evidence all that is needed is to accept the New Testament in the same way as any other piece of ancient literature. Historians routinely pour over ancient documents and extract what they consider “historical”, the minimal facts argument for Jesus resurrection employs just that sort of data.  It is not valid for the critic to dismiss the data because it comes from a source he personally dislikes.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

(1 Co 1:18)

[i] Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason : An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1990), 107.

[ii]John Piper, Why We Believe the Bible (accessed 10/01/2010)

Video I referenced by John Ankerberg